Thoughts on Motivation & Will Power

Can you believe it’s only February 19th? Why do I say only? On our wedding day Steve and I made the day and the honey moon to follow (read more about that here) go by slowly and sweetly by saying, “it’s only 8:00 or it’s only Tuesday.” We have a tendency to wish or will our time away and with the buzzed feeling of the New Year most likely wearing off, it’s a great time of the year to start doing a self-check up. What is a self-check up? It’s when you reevaluate your goals, your life, your current situation and see if there’s anything you desire to reassess and readjust. A self check-up gives you time to praise, reflect (without judgement) and evaluate what you want to do moving forward into the next month.

Praising yourself is an important and often missed step of a self-check. We are so critical of ourselves and will say things like, I wanted to go to the gym five days a week and I’ve only been going once a week. Time to praise! You’ve not been going, “only” once a week – you’ve established a once a week routine that so far is working for you! Time to reflect on how you made this happen and how it makes you feel. Next, evaluate your goal of five days a week. Is it realistic? Can we work on two days a week instead?

I know what I need to do…I just need to do it!

Ever said that? I get it. It’s been a polar vortex out there which makes me want to cuddle up and binge on anything Netflix has to offer too.

But what about when it’s not a polar vortex? What about when it’s just February in a Michigan winter or July in the heat of summer and we don’t feel motivated to work toward our goals? Perfect example of where we can reassess and readjust. Do you “have to” workout or can you view it as, “I get to” workout?

Motivation is a feeling and will power is a fallacy. Change can happen inside and outside of your comfort zone.

Will power has nothing to do with making changes

It’s not easy to change our internal habitual language but a slightly different perspective can make a big difference. It’s also normal to not feel motivated. Motivation is a feeling and your will power has nothing to do with it. As human beings, we experience feelings. Sometimes we can experience many different feelings in one day…one hour even! To expect ourselves to feel motivated all the time and to rely on that feeling is simply unrealistic. Take the pressure off and remind yourself it’s normal that motivation ain’t in our hearts all the time. 

Secondly, ask yourself how you’re going to get through a certain task or work toward a goal without that feeling? Could you work on other feelings? I know myself enough that if I’m feeling happy, it’s easier for me to choose to move more or get exercise in that I enjoy. If that’s the case for you, what makes you happy? Is it playing with your pet or simply taking in a breath of fresh air or doing a Zumba video and not get on an elliptical? Finding a way to spark happiness instead of motivation might help.

Thirdly, break down your goal into a step-by-step process. If you know that you want to workout at least once before the week is up try writing a plan to accomplish this. For example: 1) Go to bed with my gym clothes laid out 2) wake up at ___ time and review the plan in your head with the idea that you GET to workout 3) relax and enjoy coffee for __ time 4) set alarm to remind me at __ time that I have fifteen more minutes until I get to work out 5) turn the volume up on some pump up music while I warm up

See how the goal gets broken down? Smaller steps help us see it more as a task oriented goal. While will power is helpful in very short term circumstances like crossing a finish line or taking the final step up a hill. Will power is not helpful in helping us not do something.

Build in time in the day to do what enriches you without judgement

It is very important to tell yourself you’ve built in relax time. I’m no stranger to scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram. Sometimes, when I planned in a work out I felt like I wouldn’t get my relax/screen time in…wrong! I always build it in. We all need some unwind time which looks different for everyone. For me, I enjoy watching shows (ahem, The Bachelor & Seinfeld lately) and reading positive messages on Instagram. I give myself time in the day to do that without judgement so I don’t feel deprived.

What do you think? Have you been waiting for motivation or will power? Do you know what you “need” to do but just “need” to do it? Let’s talk below! It’s tougher than that, but I’m here to help.